Song #57: You, Me, and This Fuckin’ Guy – “Dan West”

October 20, 2020
Song #57: You, Me, and This Fuckin’ Guy – “Dan West”

It’s completely irrelevant to this blog, but I used to co-own a small advertising agency in New Jersey. I had found myself smack dab in the middle of corporate America in the early 2000s, and had gotten muscled out of what was a pretty excellent job as a result of a combination of being on the wrong end of an acquisition and being unable to effectively navigate the seedy, shitty world of corporate politics. I decided I didn’t want to do the corporate thing ever, ever, ever again, so I partnered up with a guy I thought I liked and started a small firm that mostly catered to mid-sized businesses.

My cousin – a guy I love and respect, and who owned agency of his own – told me in early 2008 that I needed to immerse myself in these new media if I wanted to stay on top of trends in marketing and technology. Agencies were getting on Second Life and opening virtual shops, he said. You need to be on Twitter, he said. You need to be on Facebook.

So after making it about an hour on Second Life, I joined Facebook and started connecting with people I knew in business. People I’d worked with in past jobs, former clients and customers, current coworkers. I built a page for my little ad agency and started using it to showcase our work, and started pointing colleagues toward it. Then I started reconnecting with old friends – after all, I didn’t know what they’d for a living. Maybe some guy who used to be on Dromedary, or some person I knew in high school, or somebody I played little league with, might need some marketing strategy, or maybe a new website or something.

Turned out very few people I knew actually used Facebook for business. Customers and clients were dormant, but friends were active, and for me it pretty quickly became social media. But it took me a few years being online before I established my personal Facebook policy: the only people I want to be Facebook friends with are people I actually know, not professionally but personally or through Dromedary or Signal to Noise. People that, if I have not actually met in person, are people I’ve spoken with or corresponded with or should otherwise know. Unlike the real world, I didn’t want to have to censor myself on Facebook.

I figured that Facebook could be a great way to build relationships. If I went out somewhere, I’d “check in” to that place, and sometimes a friend who was nearby would see that, and drop in to say hi. So it became a habit to “check in” on social media – something I still do today.

I also started taking pictures of shows I was attending. I didn’t want to be a pro photographer, I take pictures from wherever I’m standing, trying to capture what it is that I’m seeing. Then I put it on Facebook, and a year from now, or two years from now, that becomes a great way to jog a memory.

Then one day, a person I knew professionally made a comment about the amount of time I’m out. Which, compared to a lot of people I know, is not that much. But it reinforced to me the idea that I shouldn’t have ever become Facebook friends with people I knew professionally. Same goes with family members I don’t count as personal friends.

For me, the final straw came when a relative that has the same name as me sent me a text that said “Your friend Jim is a real asshole,” or something like that. I had no clue what he was talking about, and it took me a few minutes to realize that my pal Jim Santo was somehow having an argument on Facebook with this family member of mine.

So I went to Jim’s Facebook and read the thread. Jim had made some sort of anti-religious post, and for some reason it showed up on my relative’s newsfeed (I guess Jim had his Facebook set up so that friends of friends could see his posts). My relative made an argumentative response, Jim looked at the name, thought it was me, and so he responded sarcastically. My relative responded to Jim again, and since he thought it was me being sarcastic, he responded even more sarcastically. Pretty soon it was a full-blown argument, with Jim thinking he was having a sarcastic discussion with me, and my relative thinking Jim was an evil satanist or something (which he is).

So I began the arduous process of slowly deciding which Facebook friends could remain friends, and which ones would quietly have to go, sometimes precipitated by a discussion about why they were going.

And then donald trump was elected.

I could spend tens of thousands of words explaining what I dislike about donald trump, why I think he’s the worst president in American history, why there’s not even a close second, and why I consider it a personal affront when somebody I know supports him. I won’t. Suffice to say that after the 2016 election, I quietly hit the “unfriend” button about 50 times, dumping my trump supporting friends right out of my life.

The logic was simple: if you’re okay with overlooking the racism and misogyny and complete lack of care for others, you’re not welcome in my life. On top of that, if you’re okay with the complete fumbling of the pandemic, you’re not welcome in my life.

Gradually, over the past four years, when a less overtly political friend makes his or her position known on Facebook, I quietly hit the “bye” button. I’ve dumped about a hundred people (and I’m fairly confident that as many have dumped me, which is also fine), and in the process, I’ve also weeded out most of the people who were professional acquaintances, childhood friends, and other assorted folks that aren’t really relevant in my life. It’s narrowed down to a small window of people that I’m close with, that I truly like, who are trump supporters, and they’re all generally respectful and understanding enough to know not to be overt about it with me, because I don’t want to be pushed into making that decision with them.

What’s left is a nice little echo chamber where I can at least make believe that the world is only filled with people who care for others, who want to elevate the marginalized, help those in need, fix the environment, and maybe stop the spread of the disease that is not at all a hoax. I like that world, I wish the rest of the world was like that, instead of a place where gun-toting assholes get in your face because they don’t want to wear a mask.

I’m fully aware of all the evils of Facebook. I’ve got, at this point, more than a decade of memories and photos there, conversations with people, relationships and such. That’s where I’m at, in terms of social media. I use Instagram, but that’s a weird amalgamation of record label, radio show and personal stuff that requires the page to be viewable by everybody. I use Twitter, but that’s even more public. Facebook is my spot. It’s my cousin’s fault.

Anyway, here’s a poem that John S Hall wrote about his Facebook friendship with Dan West, both of You, Me and This Fuckin’ Guy, from the Garden Variety Fuckers LP. It’s called “Dan West.”

~ by Al on October 20, 2020.

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